7 inspirational women to follow on social this #IWD2018 ♀️

Australia for UNHCR
Mar 7, 2018 · 5 min read

1. Yusra Mardini

At the press conference announcing Yusra as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador © UNHCR/Susan Hopper

Yusra is a swimmer who was training for the Olympics as war raged in Syria. She is known for her phenomenal courage when her family got in a dingy bound for Europe and the engine failed. Yusra, who was only 17, jumped into the water and swam for hours to help pull the boat and its 20 passengers to the safety of Lesbos.

“Being a refugee is not a choice. Our choice is to die at home or risk death trying to escape.”

Yusra has continued her swimming, and competed at the Olympics in 2016.

In 2017 she was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Follow her on Twitter to admire her prowess as a swimmer and her dedication to speaking out on behalf of refugees.

Melissa with her book, ‘A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea’, inspired by the unforgettable story of Doaa Al Zamel

The UNHCR Communications Chief, Melissa Flemming is the source of information for everything refugee related globally. Her twitter feed covers the big issues, evolving crises and developments in humanitarian response worldwide.

Melissa says a key point in her career was meeting Doaa Al Zamel, a young refugee who survived a shipwreck and saved a baby’s life on her journey to safety. Doaa’s story “gripped her heart” and inspired Melissa to put pen to paper and write ‘A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea’. Read an extract from the book and learn more about Doaa’s extraordinary story of bravery.

Follow Melissa to stay up to date on refugee news from around the world.

3. Kate Holt

Kate is a photojournalist specialising in covering humanitarian crises and other events in Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Kate in action

In 2015, she travelled to Rwanda to report on the pre-election violence in Burundi that led thousands to flee their homes.

Kate has won numerous awards for her photography and reporting, and has worked for newspapers and aid agencies.

Follow her on Instagram or Twitter for stunning photography and insights into humanitarian issues across the world.

4. Eujin Byun

Eujin is a Public Information for UNHCR South Sudan. Her tweets cover the crisis and give insight into the evolving situation.

“I’m very much inspired by refugee mothers and refugee girls and their resilience in dire situation; willing to continue their education and their sacrifice for children. When I meet refugees, I normally related them with my own family”

As well as the crucial role she plays for UNHCR, Eujin says mothers like Intisar, 25, (below) truly inspire her. Intisar and her sisters had to walk for several days without food and water when the conflict erupted in Sudan. Despite reaching safety, she always regretted having to leave her books behind.

Intisar, a 25 year old Sudanese refugee, and her baby girl on the day she took her exams against the odds (she told Eujin at the time she wanted to call her baby ‘Najib’ which means ‘intelligent’ in Arabic) © UNHCR/Eujin Byun

Intisar enrolled in the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), a primary school program which compresses the six years of education into three. Since its inception, UNHCR and its partner have evolved ALP to respond to over-age learners like Intisar who missed their education because of conflict.

Eujin tells the stories of strong and courageous women like Intisar, as well as providing insight into refugee issues in South Sudan and the surrounding region. Follow her on Twitter.

5. Shabia Mantoo

Shabia is a UNHCR spokesperson, based in Yemen. Her stunning photography and captions give insight into the culture and people of Yemen, as well as the conflict.

“I hope the photos I post here [her feed] might give you a glimpse of what work is like for those of us working for the UN’s humanitarian bodies.”

Follow her on Instagram to learn about the complexities of the country as the nation grapples with a staggering crisis that has left more than 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

6. Cathy Wachiaya

Cathy is Associate Regional Editor for UNHCR in Africa. Based in Kenya, her twitter feed has photos and articles covering emergencies and issues across the continent.

Cathy Wachiaya, captured by @yvesdidier / Instagram

She also shares the stories of other amazing women, like Mary Maker (below). Mary is a Biology & Science teacher in Kakuma Refugee Camp and a strong advocate for women & girls. She believes when women are educated, they can transform whole communities 💪

Cathy also has a blog that she describes as “a personal diary of a humanitarian writer.” The latest post on there tells the story of how students from a school in Canada has connected with children from a school in Kakuma — thanks to advances in technology!

Follow Cathy on Twitter to learn more about the issues affecting Africa — an area often under-reported by traditional news outlets.

7. Kate Geraghty

“I focus my career on telling the stories of people who have been displaced or caught up in conflict. Their bravery and strength to overcome the unimaginable is inspirational.”

Kate is photojournalist with Fairfax and a nine time Walkley Award winner, including the 2017 Gold Walkley and 2017 Photographer of the Year.

Her Instagram account features haunting images and stories from across the globe, including major crises she has covered, such as refugees in Bangladesh, DRC, and South Sudan, displaced families in Iraq, and the refugee crisis in Europe.

Alma was one of the thousands of Rohingya refugees forced to flee their homes in Myanmar. Kate took this picture on her December trip to the region

Follow Kate on Instagram for her incredible photography and stories that put a human face on world events. Right now she is on assignment in Central America, photographing children and families fleeing gang violence in the region.

As well as celebrating these inspirational women, we honour the refugee women who are rebuilding their lives, helping their communities and inspiring a generation. Their courage and determination motivate us every day.


Australia for UNHCR

Written by

Raising awareness and support for the life-saving humanitarian work of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

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